06/3/13

A really cool setup…

This is a picture I came across on Pinterest. It is of a beastly tech-ed out setup. There is a Motorola Mobile Computer framed with a GPS, scanner, vehicle lighting control, radio transceivers and a few radio accessories. All mounted on a niece center console. Based on the dial cluster looks like in a Ford SUV. This is what I imagine as a perfect setup. I just love this system.

I have a Kenwood Dual band radio, a Yaesu HF 50mhz – 160m and a Motorola Mobile Computer. I just need a nice center console.

03/12/13

Solar Power

So with my radio down and out of service I’m looking at different things. Different things to do and different things to work on. I’m staying in the realm of ham radio or at least electronics, but my Fan Dipole is being bagged up right now. That will be finished in the spring. That way it’ll be warmer for me to actually operate since I have to open one the apartment windows anyways.

What now?

Field Day prep is what I’m thinking.

What is Field Day?

Field Day is a contest that is once a year for ham radio operators to really stretch their wings and test their gear. It’s a 24 hour op. It is a test of our ability to work our radio’s and transmitting equipment. It is a test of our smarts that we can put to together an operating station that follows the best engineering practices and is safe. What it comes down to is that we have a short amount of time to get a station up and on the air. Furthermore your mindset is that this is an emergency situation. Really it’s not supposed to be your normal shack. Lots of us go outside our homes and work off of alternative power in alternative shelters.

So what is my mission?

Alternative power. Something I can regulate and not have to depend on any other sources for power. Solar power! And batteries. There is a night time component to Field Day.

What to do? Plan and Prep.

1. Find out an average of how much current my radio uses per hour, on receive and on transmit.
2. Figure out which things beside a radio I’ll be using(Laptop, light, fans, etc…)
3. Batteries
4. Solar Panels
5. Accessories(Charge controller, voltage reg, PS’s)
6. Budget

A lot to do, even a little math.

More to come…

02/12/13

Technicians Licenses Out Number All The Rest Combined

The Prompt:

On the weekly 222mhz net for the Indianapolis Amateur there was a question asked tonight. It was to do with the overwhelming Technician numbers verses General and Extra Class licenses. Viewing the graph below you can see that the Technician pool of operators is much higher than the other two. Frankly it’s more the General and Extra combined. Obviously these numbers are old but just going off the graph there are 294,106 General and Extra class operators total. Technician licenses are in the 345,369 range.

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Click to Expand

The Question

Why did you do you think these numbers are so and why did I upgrade?

Why do I think these number so? I feel that there are probably about 3 reasons.

1st we are still within the time range that people who took the technician license hoping to upgrade to a higher license only to be held up by the former Morse code requirements. That killed the hobby for them.

2nd there are a lot of people that once in the hobby can fully see the cost and time and effort it takes to really be part of and enjoy the hobby. There is work involved. For example, you can not just throw up and antenna and hook it to your radio. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. The antennas need to have room, some are long, it needs to be resonant on the frequency not to break your radio and you have to find time to do all this. Plus buy these things. Radio and copper wire isn’t cheap. Not to mention if you buy commercially built products.

3rd there are lots of public service groups and civilian groups that use ham spectrum as there comms. In Wilmington, NC the hospital alone probably has 200+ people licensed as Techs that will never ever upgrade, probably never pick a radio and use it outside of an emergency. That’s becoming a nation wide thing. Plus there are cert teams, Civilian Corps and many more.
Now I’m not saying for a second that these people do deserve or need to have ham licensure. I’m am merely explaining my opinions better here than I could over my HT weakly getting into the repeater for the net. Frankly these inflated numbers only give more credibility to the hobby and it’s perks. One day I hope and believe the Home Owners Associations will be almost if not entirely striped of there powers to regulate antennas and towers.

01/22/13

My First Ham Contest

If you read previous posts, you know this past weekend I took part in my first ham radio contest. It was the North American QSO Party. I was also trying to take part in the ARRL VHF January contest but that was fruitless, completely. Saturday afternoon about 12pm CST I started my setup. I gathered up my antenna supplies, a 20 meter home made wire dipole with a DX Engineering Alpha Delta Antenna kit. Basically it’s just a feed point and two insulators. This was going up into two tree’s outside the radio room’s window, so I also used rubber bands to lash the various pieces in place. Then I just opened the windows a smudge and feed in the coaxial feed line it’s self. This all worked really well!

By this point it’s about 12:40pm on Saturday, 20 minutes to go. I now grab my laptop put it on the desk, turn on the PS and finally radio. I’m using the NAQP program by N3FJP as my logging software. It’s simple, easy-to-use and this program is specifically made for this contest. N3FJP has a whole suite of programs for popular various contests. I had tried to get my radio to interface with Ham Radio Deluxe, but it just wasn’t having it. O well.

It’s now 15 till start time. Everything is on and charged. I tune up the antenna just to tighten everything up. Since I had extra time I tuned around and called CQ for about 13 minutes and 6 contacts so I was feeling pretty good about it. First hour 20 contacts right out of the gate. All over the north, north east, south and south eastern side of the USA and I think one Canada contact. So I take a lunch break and sit with the wife for a few and then get back at it. 26 more contacts in about an hour and a half.

This is awesome, I mean I don’t have a pile up of people looking to talk to me when I’m working CQ, but every single station that I come to that’s calling CQ I get through to. Including a pile up or two that I make it through. Remember home made antenna in a tree that’s not near as high as it should have been. I’m having a ball!

At this point I’m 4 hours into the contest, I’ve stepped away to do something for the wife. I come back and turn the radio back on and my for whatever reason my power supply takes a dump. The fan inside revs up to full speed, as does the voltage read out. It maxs! As quickly as I can I turn it off and unplug my radio from it. I put a voltmeter on the PS and 31.6 volts. AGH! So pissed.

Power Supply is a MFJ-4245MV

My nice, beautiful, expensive, new Yaesu FT-950 was over volted! Then I’m taking another reading and the POS power supply shocks me. I’m touch the metal chassis of the case and the negative terminal. I then, after my arm stops hurting, take a measurement on the chassis. 186.9 volts. At this point I go, pull out my antenna and bring it in. My contest day is over. Tomorrow, tuesday 23rd, I’m calling MFJ.

I’ve always heard the MFJ isn’t the best but I really was trying to buy from an American company. Astron

ft-950 338422

 

01/17/13

Radioactive Once Again, Contest Time

I’m radioactive or soon will be this weekend with 2 contests. ARRL VHF and North American QSO Party. As you saw in my previous post my QTH has changed. I am now an Indianapolis, Indiana resident. I’ve got my power supply plugged in and my FT-950 hooked up to it. Which the timing is prefect cause I’m planning my first ever, on my own, ham radio contests this weekend. ARRL VHF January contest and the North American QSO party.

ARRL VHF Contest

Rules
This is a contest hosted by the ARRL and runs through the entire weekend. Begins 1900 UTC Saturday, ends 0359 UTC Monday (January 19-21, 2013). Basically in easy to read script it runs, 2pm Saturday January the 19th 2013 through 10:59pm January 21st 2013. I hope, UTC is confusing to me. I’m pretty sure being in Eastern Time Zone I subtract 12 + (-5) from UTC to get local time. If not and you read this, sorry!

Anyways that’s my first contest. Contest number two is the…

 

North American QSO Party

Rules

Technically NAQP is a 3 weekend event spread throughout the year. But luckily for me, some who doesn’t do CW or digital, the SSB or Single Side Band portion is this particular weekend. This contest runs from 1800 UTC January 19 to 0559 through UTC January 20, 2013 (third full weekend in January). Meaning 1pm January 19th, 2013 through 12:59am January 20th, 2013. Once again word to the wise, do your own UTC calcs.

06/20/12

2012 ARRL Field Day – (6/23/12 – 6/24/12)

Field Day is this weekend. If your a ham radio operator you probably have at least a little idea of what this means. But if your not do know this, Field Day is an event your everyone. It’s technically an event for hams to practice emergency communications but really Field Day is only half about that and half displaying our trade to the public. There’s a station called GOTA, Get on the Air. That’s all about getting newly licensed, unlicensed and formally licensed on the air. There’s normally a radio coach to help and instruct on the process.

If your in or near Near Hanover County, North Carolina come out to Ogden Park near the shelters. If you can find the shelters you can find us. We’ll be starting up at 2:30pm Saturday and going going solid through 2:30 pm Sunday.

03/10/12

Review of: The 2012 Charlotte Hamfest & ARRL Roanoke Division Convention

One of the things since I passed the Technician I’ve most been looking forward to is going to my first Ham Fest, licensed. I’ve been to HamFests before, more than a couple but less than several. I’ve been to the Huntsville Hamfest multiple times and possibly MemFest a couple. But either way I was looking forward to it. Well my dream came true, today March 10th 2012 was the Charlotte Hamfest in Concord, NC. I got up extra early this morning travel to it from Wilmington, 4 hours and I was there. I went to this by myself but hope to drag the fiance to one sometime. I tell you, I walked in bought my ticket went through admission area and looked forward and I was like wow. I was a little overwhelmed, but in a good way. I guess it’s different when you are taking it in by yourself and this time I understand most everything I see in front of me.

I proceeded to the flea market first. If your not familiar with a HamFest all the ones I’ve been to have manufactures and large ham stores in an area, then kind of small business like name plates, shirt, small antenna builders in the next section of the arena. And then segregated together, normally either to one side or the back, is the flea market. And the flea is one word “everything.” Seriously, there are resellers of hard components, connectors, electronics gear, radios, tubes(there’s always at least one person with 4 tables of vacuum tubes), old computer, cameras, and anything you as a consumer of electronics might be interested in or previously owned. I bought a good set of alligator clips and odds and ends connector. Specifically I got a set of SO-239 panel mount connecters with a very thick flange. Those will go to an antenna project.

Long story short. The Charlotte Hamfest 2012 was a very nice hamfest and I had a very nice time. They had great programs planned(I caught most of a D-Star program), nice flea market, and great vendors area. It was in a comfortable heated and cooled arena. It was very well accessible to get into and parking. And was very well attended. I was also told it appeared that attendance was up which is great! I look forward to it next year!

Here’s some pics I stole from MFJ’s Facebook, props to MFJ for these:

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03/7/12

What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur Radio (or “ham radio”) provides the broadest and most powerful wireless communications capability available to any private citizen anywhere in the world. This worldwide community of ham radio operators use their radios for emergencies, experimentation, and fun!